Who cares what Foxconn does? Not Americans.

I had to pause the podcast less than a minute in to unlock my phone. Normally I would be doing this to check a text message or read an email, but this time it was to have a conversation with Siri. I almost never use Siri but I really wanted to know what her response would be to a question about Foxconn. As it turns out, the people have Apple have also listened to this podcast. She now only responds, “Like it says on the box…I was designed by Apple in California.” I had never thought about asking Siri a question about this, which shows how little the typical American thinks about the source of their goods.

It seems that there is a new story about the horrible working conditions in China coming out every day. However, I have yet to see any real changes happen. We are so comfortable using the products that Chinese sweatshops produce that we tend to quickly forget all of these stories. To think that there was a phone with pictures from inside a Foxconn factory that showed the working conditions and it did not make the front page of any American newspaper is amazing. While we ignore the horrible working conditions that produce all of our “crap”, as Mike Daisey calls it, we also complain about American jobs being outsourced to China. How can we complain about losing jobs when nobody wants to sacrifice a few extra dollars to pay for United States manufacturing costs? We have allowed ourselves to become completely addicted to Apple products and yet we are not willing to suffer the consequences.

Anyone who reads a newspaper or any online media has heard a story about Foxconn. The horrible working conditions, excessive hours, minimal pay, cramped bedrooms, and even suicide nets are all regular news stories. However it seems that the consumers of Apple products do not actually care. I am currently writing this on a Macbook, just like nearly every other post on this blog. I also use an iPhone (and have had about five others) and an iPad on a daily basis. So am I part of this problem? Absolutely, but I don’t see a future where this changes. Apple products are so ingrained in American consumer culture that I don’t think this will ever change. Apple advertises so effectively and so often that the idea of owning an iPhone is completely stuck in the head of every American. The only people who can truly fix this problem are the decision makers at Apple. Realistically, will this ever happen? Given the continual increase in stock price, I seriously doubt it.

5 thoughts on “Who cares what Foxconn does? Not Americans.”

  1. Apple really is ingrained into our consumer world because of their elegant, superior products. I think it is less of Apple’s responsibility to change their manufacturing process and overall business strategy. I think the problem lies with manufacturing companies overseas. Maybe it is Apple’s responsibility to have more rigorous standards, but I think some of the blame lies on the Chinese government.


  2. I like how you point out that there is so much “talk” about big issues like poor working conditions, but no real activity for change. Then again, since it is such a massive issue, what would really be the best way to fix it? It’s easy to talk about improvement, but it’s an entirely different story to get millions of people to change their daily lives.


  3. Apple is certainly very ingrained in our society today. However, I would argue that the majority of this integration has only really happened over the last 10 years. In the next 10 years do you see Americans becoming more or less dependent on Apple products? Could another tech company with a more sustainable business model overthrow Apple?


  4. Apple products have become a part of our lives that will be incredibly challenging to give up. I don’t think I will ever own another phone besides an iPhone, and really enjoy using it. I think the real question we must ask is what price are we as consumers willing to pay to have products made in better working conditions? As that price increases dramatically, will it change our view on cheap labor?


  5. very cool that you so moved by Daisey’s conversation with siri that you wanted to find out for yourself if anything had changed since the release of this podcast. Alas… much like working conditions in China, not much has changed, and siri remains secretive (Apple being secretive!) about her origins.


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